Critical Response to King Lear- Self-discovery.
Man's journey to self-discovery is inevitably difficult. One will not become completely self-aware until he is able to see the world clearly. This un-blinding will only occur once the person has endured the pains associated with finding oneself. This idea is evident in the tragedy King Lear, by William Shakespeare. Both King Lear himself, as well as Gloucester are deceived and undergo an immense amount of suffering, both physically and mentally, before they are finally able to see the world clearly and continue on their path to self discovery. This path occurs in the form of a cycle. A tragic hero will fall from his position of superiority to one of suffering and misery before he rises again, now with wisdom and knowledge. Shakespeare develops these ideas through the sufferings of characters, and the process of un-blinding that will lead them in their path to self discovery. .
Blindness, in King Lear, is not defined as the inability of the eye to see, but as a mental flaw that prevents some people from seeing the truth. Lear and Gloucester are unable to see the truth, which leads them to make poor decisions. These decisions are the ultimate cause of their sufferings, and it is this suffering that leads them to self- awareness. Lear's foolishness at the beginning of the play sets the stage for his journey of suffering and downfall. Both Lear and Gloucester naively believe themselves to be so loved and full of wisdom that nothing could ever bring them down. When Lear begs the question "Which of you shall we say doth love us most?"(1,1,50) he is being foolish in placing the fate of himself and his kingdom on the lies of his daughters. Lear loses all he has to his daughters because he believes that they will take care of him. Gloucester is naive and vulnerable and is not able to see the deceitfulness of Edmund. Regan and Goneril deceive King Lear when they pronounce their insincere love for him.